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“Stars Align” Episode 1 Review: Childhood Memories Clashes with Soft Tennis Club

This coming-of-age sports anime written by Kazuki Akane made its official release in late 2019 and is yet to find its way on Crunchyroll until May 2022. Stars Align follows the boys of a junior high school soft tennis club. Their lack of effort to become a formidable opponent during competitions leaves them on the verge of disbanding. However, Touma Shinjou is determined to find a way to bring their team back into the spotlight. With the help of Maki Katsuragi, will the soft tennis club succeed?

Here is the scoop on episode 1 of Stars Align!

Maki and Touma
Kazuki Akane – Stars Align

Dynamic Characters

The anime begins with a montage of tennis shots for the girls’ team during a competition. Based on their stance and abilities, the team is far above the boys with moments where they express their overconfidence. Besides the harsh words from the girls’ soft tennis team, the focus is sent to Maki who makes errands for his mother. His standoffish character makes him seem rather rude at least to nearby strangers, but his character development only begins to unfold.

Many of the boys playing on the soft tennis team only appear briefly to give their take on the success of the girls’ team and their possible disbandment. However, one boy, in particular, seems to stand out amongst the rest with his short temper. Touma Shinjou doesn’t want to give up on the team and goes through desperate measures to make sure their club stays alive.

Club Funding

Thinking that the boys could get by with their constant laziness, they end up hanging out under trees to escape the heat. But the gossip from other classmates creates an incentive for the class president to break the silence. Her shocking announcement sends clubs like the boys’ soft tennis team to scramble for a solution. We can’t help but understand the class president’s logic in that clubs who put in the effort should be rewarded funds.

Childhood Memories

soft tennis club
Kazuki Akane – Stars Align

In the first episode of Stars Align, there is a small flashback to when Touma and Maki played as children. Even though we are not informed about how they became friends, Touma and Maki seem to have a solid friendship. There are still quite a few holes in their relationship as Maki just transferred. But we anticipate having the answers in the next few episodes.

Maki’s Family Troubles

Maki Katsuragi may be more reserved than other characters, but he never fails to help out his mother who is divorced. Maki spends more time attending to chores than taking part in a club, which leaves Touma frustrated when Maki flat out refuses his request to join the club. Time is not the only issue preventing Maki from participating. So, Touma comes up with a deal to have him join the team for a chance at winning the upcoming competition. Despite being a beginner in the sport, he seems to have a special skill that others might not have.

A troubling visit from his dad sends him trapped in a corner. But his sudden resolve leads viewers to the conclusion that Maki is used to the abuse inflicted on him. He turns to the household chores to clear his head.

Although this is the first episode of Stars Align, Katsuragi’s character development leaves enough hope for him to find a place on the tennis team to escape his broken family. We are also hoping that Touma Shinjou will receive a thorough deep dive into his character.

Watch Stars Align on Crunchyroll now!

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